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Absent bridesmaid attends wedding - via iPad

The iPad bridesmaid.

While wedding planners may blanch at the idea of expanding the RSVP protocol to include a virtual-attendance option, it's only a matter of time.

A recent wedding has unveiled a new 21st-century role: the iPad bridesmaid.

Although she stayed home in Richmond, Va., bridesmaid Renee Armstrong "walked" down the aisle as her friend, Jamie Alberico, got married in Denver. A groomsman carried an iPad from which Ms. Armstrong looked out at the wedding party.

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How? Via FaceTime, Apple's wireless video-calling app.

She later appeared in photos and mingled with guests. A video of the wedding on YouTube is drawing cheers from tech enthusiasts but jeers from observers who think Ms. Armstrong upstaged the bride and groom.

"It was great. I got all teary-eyed during the ceremony and I couldn't have gotten that from pictures," Ms. Armstrong told Denver's ABC news affiliate.

It's not the first time. Earlier this month, Mason, Ohio, bride Ashley Broering was able to have her hospitalized mother attend her wedding via Skype, according to a piece in the Huffington Post.

The spectre of a wedding where all the guests are appearing via computer is enough to startle even the most savvy social-media observers. Still, with everyone from the corporate world to grandparents embracing video-conferencing, perhaps the iPad wedding guest will become commonplace too, says Alexandra Samuel, the director of the Social and Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver.

"It's hard for me to see it becoming a widespread phenomenon," says Dr. Samuel. "But so far, nobody's gone wrong by betting on the normalization of what initially seems like a really weird technology use."

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